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Adlleong

Puzzle complexity scope

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Let me start by saying that I loved BA part 1 and am eagerly looking forward to part 2. What disappointed me, however, wasn't just how easy the puzzles were, but how short and simple the puzzle chains were. In other great adventure games, there would often be large areas that could be explored freely with multiple puzzle chains that could be solved non-linearly (for example, Rubicava in Grim Fandango or the entire house in Day of the Tentacle). The puzzles in these areas would have complex overlapping dependencies. I was sad that each problem in BA had a 1 or 2 step solution.

I understand from the documentary that a lot of puzzle scope had to be cut from the game for budget reasons. That sucks, but budgets are a fact of life. But why is the puzzle scope in BA (at least so far) so much smaller and simpler than adventure games with similar budgets (Grim Fandango) or even with far smaller budgets (Day of the Tentacle)? Are games more expensive to make in 2014 than they were in 1993 or 1998? Were there resources at Lucas Arts that made development more efficient that Double Fine doesn't have? Was it that hand painting the backgrounds was too time consuming and expensive?

What would it take for Double Fine to make an adventure game with the same size and scope as Grim Fandango? More money (how much?)? A bigger team?

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As it turned out, many aspects of the game became expensive.

First you have the engine. I remember them initially considering existing engines, even Wintermute was mentioned which is open source and completely free. But the scope increased, not a bit but vastly. They decided to support all the possible platforms! I don't know many existing engines that can do that. So they decided to build their own multi-platform engine, which is expensive. No matter how good a development team you have, it still takes quite some time to implement and test such a project.

That was beacause of the more than successful Kickstarter campaign, which encouraged DF to increase the production values. They hired some famous (therefore expensive) voice actors, recorded the sound track with a full orchestra and generally polished the game a lot. They also went with hand drawn art. There is a lot of art content in this game, a lot of backgrounds and a lot of animations. If you want to maintain the hight production values, then for instance for each puzzle step you design a different animation and record a different dialogue. If you can't maintain the high production values as you increase the puzzle scope, you either drop them or decrease the scope.

Judging from the reactions, there are many who enjoy the high production values, even if it is in the expense of a broader puzzle scope. I am a bit stubborn and want more challenge, but I generally enjoyed the game.

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